Schalke fight back to reach last eight

Schalke battled their way to a 2-2 draw at BORUSSIA-PARK to claim their spot in the quarter final stage of the Europa League. After going into half time trailing by two goals after Andreas Christensen and Mahmoud Dahoud’s strikes, Leon Goretzka’s goal in the 54th minute and Nabil Bentaleb’s 68th minute penalty sealed a dramatic comeback for the Royal Blues.

Tactics and Personnel

Markus Weinzierl made one change from the team that beat FC Augsburg 3-0 on Sunday, bringing in Leon Goretzka – who missed the game against the head coach’s former side with a thigh muscle injury – in place of Max Meyer. The team was lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Foals go two goals ahead

The game's early stages passed with little note. Both sides remained compact and kept their cards close to their chests, wary of giving anything away while looking to get themselves on the scoresheet. The deadlock was broken in the 26th minute thanks to a scrappy goal by Andreas Christensen. The ball bounced into his path from an uncleared free kick, and his shot deflected off both Matija Nastasic and Benedikt Höwedes past Ralf Fährmann. Schalke kicked into life after conceding but fell further behind just before the break after Dahoud launched a sensational shot from 25 yards out, a move which had started following a poor loss of the ball high in the Gladbach half from Schalke.

Goretzka and Bentaleb swing things around

Schalke were on the front foot from the moment the second half began, getting their reward nine minutes after the restart through Goretzka's somewhat bizarre effort. The Germany international picked up the ball around 25 yards away from goal, moved forwards and struck a low shot with his left foot. On its way towards the net it bounced awkwardly off the turf, just over the now-stranded Yann Sommer. The Royal Blues really put their foot on the pedal after Goretzka's goal and found their way to a second in the 68th minute. The referee called a penalty for a handball by Dahoud and once again at BORUSSIA-PARK, Bentaleb made no mistake from the spot. The final 22 minutes were a real battle for both sides, but S04 defended well and Fährmann made some vital stops to see them through to the final whistle and an aggregate victory via the away goals rule.

Conclusions and Outlook

Despite being two goals down at the half time whistle, Schalke refused to let their heads dropped, maintained their belief and fought their way back level. It was not the prettiest but it was a second half performance to be proud of for those involved. The draw for the quarter finals will be made on Friday in Nyon, starting at 13:00 CET.

The team will return to Bundesliga action on Sunday to meet 1. FSV Mainz 05 away from home. The match at the Opel Arena will begin at 15:30 CET.